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Services as Experience Goods: An Empirical Examination of Consumer Learning in Automobile Insurance

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  • Mark Israel

Abstract

Theoretical work on experience goods sets out three empirical questions. How accurate is information at initial purchase? How rapidly do consumers learn from product experiences? And how much impact does learning have on purchase decisions? I answer these questions for the case of automobile insurance, using a panel of 18,595 consumers from one firm. My principal findings are: patterns of consumer departures following claims point to learning; consumers enter the firm overly optimistic about its quality and are generally disappointed by experience; and the impact of learning is mitigated by the slow arrival of claims and the development of lock-in.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Israel, 2005. "Services as Experience Goods: An Empirical Examination of Consumer Learning in Automobile Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1444-1463, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:5:p:1444-1463
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282805775014335
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1989. "Imperfect information in the product market," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 769-847 Elsevier.
    2. Hubbard, Thomas N, 2002. "How Do Consumers Motivate Experts? Reputational Incentives in an Auto Repair Market," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 437-468, October.
    3. Tülin Erdem & Michael P. Keane, 1996. "Decision-Making Under Uncertainty: Capturing Dynamic Brand Choice Processes in Turbulent Consumer Goods Markets," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 15(1), pages 1-20.
    4. Gregory S. Crawford & Matthew Shum, 2005. "Uncertainty and Learning in Pharmaceutical Demand," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1137-1173, July.
    5. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-329, March-Apr.
    6. Horstmann, Ignatius J & MacDonald, Glenn M, 1994. "When Is Advertising a Signal of Product Quality?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(3), pages 561-584, Fall.
    7. Mark Israel, 2005. "Tenure Dependence in Consumer-Firm Relationships: An Empirical Analysis of Consumer Departures from Automobile Insurance Firms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 165-192, Spring.
    8. Carl Shapiro, 1982. "Consumer Information, Product Quality, and Seller Reputation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 20-35, Spring.
    9. Daniel A. Ackerberg, 2003. "Advertising, learning, and consumer choice in experience good markets: an empirical examination," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(3), pages 1007-1040, August.
    10. Heckman, James J, 1991. "Identifying the Hand of the Past: Distinguishing State Dependence from Heterogeneity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 75-79, May.
    11. Paul L. Joskow, 1973. "Cartels, Competition and Regulation in the Property-Liability Insurance Industry," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(2), pages 375-427, Autumn.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jie Bai, 2016. "Melons as Lemons: Asymmetric Information, Consumer Learning and Seller Reputation," Natural Field Experiments 00540, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Alma Cohen & Peter Siegelman, 2010. "Testing for Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 77(1), pages 39-84.
    3. Szymanowski, M.G., 2009. "Consumption-based learning about brand quality : Essays on how private labels share and borrow reputation," Other publications TiSEM b12825d8-5e21-4437-adda-b, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. Anja Lambrecht & Katja Seim, 2006. "Adoption and Usage of Online Services in the Presence of Complementary Offline Services: Retail Banking," Working Papers 06-27, NET Institute, revised Oct 2006.
    5. Elisabeth Honka, 2014. "Quantifying search and switching costs in the US auto insurance industry," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(4), pages 847-884, December.
    6. Leemore Dafny & David Dranove, 2008. "Do report cards tell consumers anything they don't already know? The case of Medicare HMOs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 790-821.
    7. Anindya Ghose & Sang Pil Han, 2009. "A Dynamic Structural Model of User Learning in Mobile Media Content," Working Papers 09-24, NET Institute, revised Oct 2009.
    8. Paul Kofman & Gregory P. Nini, 2013. "Do Insurance Companies Possess an Informational Monopoly? Empirical Evidence From Auto Insurance," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 80(4), pages 1001-1026, December.
    9. Czajkowski, Mikołaj & Hanley, Nick & LaRiviere, Jacob, 2013. "The effects of experience on preference uncertainty: theory and empirics for environmental goods," 2013 Conference (57th), February 5-8, 2013, Sydney, Australia 152155, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    10. Czajkowski, Mikołaj & Hanley, Nick & LaRiviere, Jacob, 2013. "The Effects of Experience on Preference Uncertainty: Theory and Empirics for Public and Quasi-Public Environmental Goods," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-125, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    11. K. Sudhir & Nathan Yang, 2014. "Exploiting the Choice-Consumption Mismatch: A New Approach to Disentangle State Dependence and Heterogeneity," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1941, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    12. Hintermann, Beat & Lange, Andreas, 2013. "Learning abatement costs: On the dynamics of the optimal regulation of experience goods," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 625-638.
    13. Andrew T. Ching & Tülin Erdem & Michael P. Keane, 2013. "Learning Models: An Assessment of Progress, Challenges and New Developments," Economics Papers 2013-W07, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    14. repec:sss:wpaper:201405 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Mikolaj Czajkowski & Nick Hanley & Jacob LaRiviere, 2015. "The Effects of Experience on Preferences: Theory and Empirics for Environmental Public Goods," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 97(1), pages 333-351.
    16. Chatain, Olivier & Eizenberg, Alon, 2015. "Demand Fluctuations, Capacity Constraints and Repeated Interaction: An Empirical Analysis of Service Quality Adjustments," CEPR Discussion Papers 10545, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Matthew Osborne, 2011. "Consumer learning, switching costs, and heterogeneity: A structural examination," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 25-70, March.

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